Landowners march to press for payment of what they claim is owed. Landowners march to press for payment of what they claim is owed.

Guadalajara airport expansion still held up by dispute over land

The need to expand is regarded as urgent but the two sides are 1.8 billion pesos apart

The much-needed expansion of the Guadalajara airport continues to be held up by a long-running dispute over the payment of compensation for expropriated land.

The federal government expropriated 307 hectares for the airport in 1951 but almost 70 years later, community landowners of the El Zapote ejido (cooperative) say that full and fair compensation still hasn’t been paid.

To meet growing demand for passenger and freight services, the Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla International Airport needs another runway and other facilities that are slated to be built on 137 hectares of land also owned by the El Zapote ejido.

However, landowners are refusing to cede the land until they are compensated for the 1951 expropriation.

Ejido representative Nicolás Vega Pedroza told the newspaper El Economista that it is time for the government to pay up.

“. . . There is already an appraisal [of the value of the land], everything is ready, there are no more recourses other than to pay the ejido. This week we have a visit to Mexico City and we’re going to see what progress there is with the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation . . .” he said.

Based on an appraisal for which they paid, the landowners have demanded 3.2 billion pesos (US $163.5 million) in compensation but a government appraiser valued the land at less than half that amount.

“The last appraisal that came out is for 1.317 billion pesos [US $67.3 million]. We didn’t agree with how they did it, because of the methodology, but if we reach an agreement and they pay us, we’ll be satisfied with that,” Vega said.

“There are 137 hectares they [want to] use, 51 [hectares] immediately for the second runway and the rest for workshops and other things. The ejido has no problem in reaching an agreement, negotiating, but up to now they haven’t paid us.”

The president of the Guadalajara chapter of the American Chamber of Commerce said that resolving the dispute is a matter of urgency, adding that with the expansion of the airport the region encompassing Jalisco and surrounding states has the potential to become Mexico’s logistics hub.

“There is already a promise from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador for a second runway, to reach agreements with the ejido . . . We’re seeking for that to be achieved so that we have an airport that is a hub, especially for freight,” Francisco Wilson Loaiza said.

Source: El Economista (sp) 

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